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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Young core shines as Indiana baseball wins 2 out of 3 games on opening weekend

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Indiana baseball picked up right where it left off last season, spraying baseballs all over Brooks Stadium at Coastal Carolina University. The Hoosiers bounced back from a 6-3 opening day loss to No. 12 Duke University on Friday by upsetting No. 18 Coastal Carolina 7-2 on Saturday and finishing the weekend with a 9-3 victory over George Mason University.  

Indiana could not keep pace with Duke on Friday. The Blue Devils, fresh off a Super Regional trip last season, tallied six extra-base hits as they wreaked havoc on Indiana’s bullpen. Sophomore right-hander Brayden Risedorph got the opening day start, turning in 4.2 innings of two-hit, one-run ball, walking one batter and striking out four. The run he surrendered was courtesy of a fifth inning two-out double from junior shortstop Wallace Clark, a transfer from the University of Oklahoma.  

Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer subsequently brought junior southpaw Ryan Kraft out of the bullpen and he immediately ended the inning, striking out redshirt senior second baseman Zac Morris on four pitches. Indiana then missed a crucial chance to tie the game at one run apiece.  

Junior second baseman Brandon Burckel, a transfer from the University of Houston, worked a one-out walk, which junior center fielder Carter Mathison followed with a single to move the tying run into scoring position. With the heart of Indiana’s lineup waiting in the wings, junior third baseman Josh Pyne grounded into an inning-ending double play and Duke southpaw Jonathan Santucci got out of the jam.

In the top of the sixth, immediately after the momentum-stopper from Santucci and the Blue Devil defense, Kraft surrendered back-to-back home runs to catcher Alex Stone and first baseman Logan Bravo, the second of which was hit so hard that sophomore left fielder Devin Taylor did not try to field it; rather, he stood motionless as it sailed over his head and out of the ballpark.

Two is better than one! Stone and Bravo go back-to-back for our first homers of the year.

T6 | Duke 3, Indiana 0 | #BlueCollar pic.twitter.com/dIKG6cSb7n

After shutting down Indiana’s bats for five innings, Santucci was replaced by sophomore lefty Owen Proksch, and the Hoosiers’ offense came alive. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Cerny cut into Duke’s lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, but Duke responded with a pair of runs in the seventh and salted the game away with a solo shot from sophomore left fielder Tyler Albright in the eighth inning. Indiana failed to score in the ninth, suffering a 6-3 defeat.  

Containing a Coastal Carolina offense that, just one day earlier, routed George Mason 26-0, seemed like a daunting task for the Indiana pitching staff — but newly minted sophomore starting pitcher Connor Foley and redshirt senior left-hander Ty Bothwell were up to the task.  

Saturday’s game between the Hoosiers and the Chanticleers played out much like Indiana’s Friday contest, with neither team scoring prior to the fifth inning. This time, Indiana opened the scoring — Taylor hit an opposite-field single with the bases loaded to score the game’s first run and junior first baseman Brock Tibbitts added another on a hard line drive-turned sacrifice fly.  

The flame-throwing Foley quieted one of the nation’s best offenses, delivering four shutout innings, allowing two hits, walking two batters and striking out seven. Bothwell came out of the bullpen following Indiana’s fifth-inning rally and sat down Coastal in order. In the sixth inning, a Cerny throwing error and quality at-bats from the Chanticleer offense tied the game at two, with both runs being unearned.  

The game remained tied until the eighth inning, when Burckel homered on the first pitch he saw to give Indiana a 3-2 lead. Bothwell worked a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning, and Indiana blew the game open in the ninth.  

The Hoosiers’ rally began with a leadoff single from Taylor, and Mercer opted for a pinch runner in senior outfielder Sam Murrison, who is primarily a defensive specialist. Tibbitts followed with a base hit, and a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. Cerny once again found green grass, plating both runners on an opposite-field single. Redshirt freshman AJ Shepard salted the game away with his first career home run, a two-run opposite-field blast.

A moment we will never forget ? pic.twitter.com/fj7asy2sIv

Bothwell got the first two outs of the ninth without issue. Coastal momentarily cracked the door open with a pair of two-out baserunners after a seven-pitch, two-out walk and a single, but Bothwell slammed it shut, retiring graduate infielder Zack Beach to end the game and cement the ranked upset.  

Bothwell surrendered just four hits in five innings of relief, allowing two unearned runs, walking two and striking out three. Indiana leaned on him in high-leverage spots late last season, and Bothwell proved his mettle again Saturday. Indiana’s first sixth-year senior showed his experience, efficiently inducing weak contact to keep his pitch count down en route to a 7-2 victory.

FINAL: @IndianaBase knocks off No. 18 Coastal Carolina 7-2. Veteran LHP Ty Bothwell took it the final 5 innings and escaped CCU's 9th-inning comeback bid. Gritty road win against a very good opponent. Connor Foley & Bothwell holding Coastal to 2 runs here is a big accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/OvWe7JZftp

Indiana closed the “Baseball at the Beach Tournament” with a wire-to-wire win over George Mason. Taylor picked up the game’s first run batted in with a single in the first inning, and senior outfielder Morgan Colopy’s bases-loaded walk gave the Hoosiers a 2-0 lead. Shepard belted his second home run in as many days, a two-run jack in the third inning, and Colopy followed suit with a solo shot.

T3 | Welcome to college baseball, kid ‼️

AJ Shepard goes yard again! pic.twitter.com/k0sxjDQnIt

The Patriots chased sophomore starting pitcher Ethan Phillips in the fourth inning, cutting into the 5-0 Indiana lead with a pair of runs in the frame, but senior righty Seti Manase got the Hoosiers out of the jam. The fourth inning was George Mason’s best chance to draw even.  

In the sixth, the Patriots added a run after a Manase fielding error, but Mathison answered with a three-run homer that put the game out of reach. Burckel scored Indiana’s ninth and final run of the game on a throwing error, and junior Boston College transfer Julian Tonghini nailed down the three-inning save that included a 1-2-3 ninth inning, securing the Hoosiers’ 9-3 win.

T8 | Touch 'em all, Carter! ?@carter_mathison | #IUBase pic.twitter.com/W9hIA0HWNQ

Indiana’s pitching staff, perhaps its biggest unknown heading into this season, was rock solid. Save for Kraft’s uncharacteristically bad outing against Duke, the Hoosier hurlers played a seismic role in the team’s success. In Indiana’s wins, the pitching staff allowed just two earned runs and held opposing batters to a sub-.200 average while limiting walks.  

After being stymied by a lockdown Duke bullpen, the offense bounced back mightily, scoring a total of 16 runs between Saturday and Sunday. Mathison and Shepard each hit a pair of home runs, and they joined Cerny, Colopy and Taylor as players with multiple runs batted in. Indiana tallied 10 extra-base hits, including seven homers.

FINAL: @IndianaBase beats George Mason 9-3 to finish a 2-1 weekend at Baseball at the Beach. There's a whole lot to like about this Hoosier club; I wanted to see how the young pitching would look, and what I saw was awfully encouraging. And we know this team will rake. Good club.

Indiana is 2-1 after one weekend of action. Its home opener is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday versus Miami University of Ohio on Big Ten Plus. Afterwards, the Hoosiers head to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor University on Feb. 23-25 on ESPN+. Friday night’s game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., with matinees slated for 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.  

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Nick Rodecap (@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.

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